The Testimony of Kaela Tutor

I was born on September 19, 1989 to saved parents, Mike and Audrey Williams. I’m the youngest of 4 kids and we had a very happy childhood. I would have to say, however, that it was very different. My dad was a pastor, so we were in church a lot. I grew up attending camp meetings and going with him to the meetings he would preach. We moved a lot as he searched for the right church that God wanted him to pastor. I always knew I was lost simply because I had never been saved. It would be many years before I would know and feel what really being lost was.

When I was very young I began to feel God touch me and move on me in church, but never talked to my dad about it. It was not that he would not let me, in fact I can remember when I was about 11 or 12 years old he sat me in his lap and told me that when God began to deal with me, I could talk to him. I regret so much not talking to him. I know it had to have hurt him. His very own daughter not coming to talk to him about something that God had given him authority to help people with. Only God knows what kind of help I could have gotten or how much sooner I could have been saved, if only I had talked to my pastor. There were many opportunities to do so. There was one night in particular (probably when I was 14 or 15) when I was laying in the bed crying, scared to death to fall asleep because I had heard a sermon that shook me up … and still I said nothing.

We moved to Texas in March of 2002 and after pastoring churches in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas my dad finally found a group of sheep that would follow him as he followed God. Pioneer Baptist Church was established in February of 2003 and I have watched them love God and love my dad since I was 12 years old until this very day. For that I am very thankful. They are a sweet group of people who are very dear to me.

At a young age I began to develop a crush for a boy at Grace Baptist Church in Pontotoc Mississippi. His name was Stephen Tutor. We had grown up together in camp meeting. I could not explain why, but I just thought he “hung the moon”. One of my best friends was Caley Beth Owen, who also attended Grace. I would go stay with her sometimes and would ask her tons of questions about him. I could not talk about him enough or hear about him enough. I would see him on and off through the year at camp and other church functions and would watch him, longing for the day when he might notice me. I was head over heels for him.

In order to tell you what happened next in my life I need to tell you a little bit of my dad’s history. Back in 1982 he was looking for a good bible college to attend and Mrs. Rachel Shipman recommended Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi. It was there that my dad met Bro. Terry Owen. They became friends and through a series of events my dad introduced Bro. Terry Owen to Bro. Charles Shipman. After hearing Bro. Charles preach, Bro. Terry quickly found out that he was lost. Long story short, my dad ended up helping Bro. Terry realize what he was doing wrong and telling what he needed to do to get saved. This is a very condensed version of what happened but I must tell you this because Bro. Terry later said that he was so thankful that my dad told him what he needed to hear to be saved. He prayed that God would allow him to help one of Bro. Mike’s kids. I do not know why, other than God wanted to, but that kid was me.  The way God chose to get me into the position where Bro. Terry could help me was thankfully by putting it in Stephen’s heart to start returning my feelings for him. At camp in February of 2007 Stephen asked my dad’s permission to start calling me, and shortly after we began dating. It proved to be pretty difficult to date living 10 hours away from each other, but we survived it. Then, shortly after the Lighthouse birthday celebration in 2009, Stephen got saved. It was certainly different having a saved boyfriend.

In the late summer of 2009 there were only four of us in the youth group at Pioneer. It was all girls and we were very close. Then within about a month of each other they all left the church. It was truly one of the hardest times in my life. Three of my best and closest friends I had, left and I was absolutely devastated. Yet all the while I was thinking that I was better than them because I had stayed. I honestly can say I did not ever have any desire to leave the church, but Iwas taking the credit for that. I thought that it was my doing when really God was hedging me in. God had put Stephen in my life and saved him to keep me from going out into the world.

Stephen proposed to me in November of 2009 and we were married the following July. The move from Pioneer to Grace was exciting but difficult. I pretty much stayed home sick for the first few months but it slowly got better. After about five or six months of going to Grace I really began to feel the need to start talking to Bro. Terry but was still very hesitant. Then finally a hard enough sermon was preached one Sunday night and at last I broke my silence. I do not remember what all we talked about but I remember it being very helpful. After talking to him several times I began to wonder what I thought the big deal was about talking to a preacher. I guess the truth is I saw my dad as my dad and not my pastor. I did not see what I had when I had it. The truth is he is one of the greatest men of God alive today.

After being at Grace for a little over a year I began to talk to Bro. Terry about how much I missed one of my friends that had left Pioneer. She and I were extremely close for seven years and I missed her so much that sometimes I would just sit and cry wishing that we could still be friends. It was hard for me because it was literally over night that she was gone and we no longer had contact with one another. He told me that I had to get passed it somehow. I was living in the past and I needed to give myself to people of Grace. I struggled a lot with how to do this, but really wanted to because I was not too happy living like this. Then, one Wednesday night, Bro. Terry preached a message on looking back out of Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. He said that as long as I was looking back I was not going to go forward. Forward with the church, or with God, let alone forward to get saved. I was looking back in a longing way at what I had lost and not even caring about what I had gained. God had sent me to a church that I had grown up with and loved my entire life and I knew they loved me, yet I often found myself wishing that things could be like they were. Not to say that I was in constant misery. I was making some good friends at Grace and I had a good life at home with a good husband. But it was enough to keep me from getting where I needed to be. Needless to say this message ended up helping me a lot. I sought council more and more about how not to look back. After that things really started to turn around. I of course did not completely forget about my friend. I still love her and pray for her and hope that one day she will see that life is much better with the people of God. But I can truly say that God has restored to me one hundred fold what I have lost. I just had to give myself to it.

Finally, after getting passed all of that, God began to deal with me about where I was as far as getting saved. Many messages were preached that I am sure would have helped me if I had been listening like I should have. But the truth is I am a very passive person. It would take a very powerful sermon to get me to really start seeking the way I should. Then I would quickly fall back into being complacent and not caring. Then in April 2012 Stephen and I found out we were expecting our first child. I was very excited but in the back of my mind I really did not want my baby to have a lost mother. Meanwhile, God had been really working in the youth at church. I could see them really starting to get serious about going after God but I thought it would be a while before anything would happen. Then one of them got saved. Hannah Hill was assigned to me as my “little sister” at a girl’s camp when we were younger, and all of the sudden she’s saved and out in front of me. I was happy for her but it really hurt my pride. Then another one of the other younger girls, Lydia Harding who had just graduated high school, had a sermon preached right to her. She was told that God wanted her and she needed to go after Him. We sat next to each other in church and God would move on us both very often and at the same time. We would talk to Bro. Terry after church and he would say that we were sounding very much in the same place and would often call us twins.

My first camp meeting as a pregnant woman was very difficult. I really struggled to listen due to the extreme nausea, heartburn, and fatigue. I left that camp feeling very discouraged thinking that this pregnancy was going to continue to be a huge distraction. Then finally when I got into my second trimester the symptoms really started to die down and my listening and seeking perked up. There were several times when Bro. Terry would be preaching to the lost and Lydia I were bent over in our seats crying. I told Bro. Terry that at the time I felt like being pregnant was not too much of a distraction but I was afraid it was going to turn back into one. Let alone how much of a distraction an actual baby would be. He said there would always be something to distract you. Whether it is having a new born, or teaching him to crawl, or walk, or potty training… There will always be something to pull you away. You have to fight it!

In December 2012 our son, Greyson was born. I became completely consumed in motherhood. I could feel myself slipping away from searching for God. This is a good example of something that is good pulling you away from where your mind and heart need to be. I had forgotten to fight through the distractions. I do not remember how long it was before I realized how distracted I had become, but I eventually began to really put forth effort to listen like I should. I went to Texas to visit my parents when Greyson was three months old. I knew I was going to be there on a Wednesday night but was not really thinking that God was going to talk to me. We went to church and my dad began preaching about the love of God. I wish I could tell you what all he said but I remember God was telling me that he really loved me. I was sitting on the front row, which is literally about 16 inches from the platform where dad was preaching. He was right in front of telling me that God loved me and I just had tears rolling down my face. I remember he looked at and said, “Kaela, you might as well just go on and cry out to him”. And I did. Daddy whispered in my ear and told me that God had said to him earlier that day that He was going to let him help one of his daughters that night. My sister, Charity was sitting right next me and God very well could have helped her that night too. But I know that God was talking to me. One of the things God had been telling me through Bro. Terry was that He favored me. I kept hearing that again that night. Out of my dad’s 4 kids, the one that God had chosen to bring to a place where Bro. Terry could help them was me. Not to say that God does not love my other siblings, but God had given me blessings unnumbered and I did not deserve a single one of them. I continued to cry out and eventually got thankful but then in my mind I began thinking “I hope this works”. Of course with that attitude nothing happened. Later that night dad and I talked to Bro. Terry via facetime and we told him what had happened. We sorted through it and even though I did not get saved Bro. Terry told me that clearly God wanted to talk to me that night, because he did not even preached to the lost there at Grace. He preached to the saved. I was encouraged that God was thinking about me and wanted to talk to me.

When I got back home to Grace I fell back into complacency. Then messages would be preached that would stir me up to go after God and then I would go right back to where I was. I was on a rollercoaster! I could not stay on track long enough to get anywhere and it was slowly killing me. Bro. Terry told me one night, “This is who you are. This is who Kaela really is. She is a person who is so easily distracted from going after God and you need to turn from that!” It shook me up. All I wanted to do was hang my head. All I kept thinking was “what is wrong with me?” Little did I know then, that I had begun to think that I was beyond all hope. I thought that there was something so wrong with my brain that even God could not fix it. I felt like salvation was something that was possible for anyone else but me. I remember the night Bro. Terry helped me figure out that this is what I was thinking. I was in shock that I felt that way but I could not deny it. It would end up being what I would need the most help with by the end of my lost journey.

As life went on I still continued to struggle with staying consistent in my seeking, but I could feel that God was helping me. I can remember at least once talking to Bro. Terry after he preached something to the lost and telling him that I did not have anything in particular to ask him about, I was just afraid not to talk to him. I was scared that I would go back to sleep if I did not say something.

Somewhere around this time we had another camp meeting and during one of the one another services Stephen got up to do something. He grabbed one of the alabaster necklaces and began to talk to me. He told me that he loved me and that he was thankful to have me as his wife. Then he reminded of how I would watch him at camp when we were growing up. How I longed for him to notice me. He said that God was doing the same with me. God was waiting on the day for me to really want Him like that. That was very encouraging and it really helped me to see that God wanted me to want Him.

Then one Sunday I missed church because Greyson was sick. That night Lydia ended up getting saved. She told the church two weeks later and I had mixed emotions. I was happy that God had saved my friend but I knew once again that I should have been ahead of her. If I had been more consistent in looking for God maybe I would have been. By being ahead of her I do not mean that it is a race for 1st place, but that I am older and should have been setting an example for her. Not the other way around.

Around this time Greyson had just turned one and I could feel time passing by very fast. I was a 24-year-old wife and mother who was still lost and saw no end in sight. I would often sit and wonder if I would EVER be saved. It felt like I was stuck in a pit that had dug myself and I could NOT get out.

One night, in February or March, Bro. Terry preached again to the lost. When he got done I waited in the line to talk to him. By the time it was my turn there were not many people left in the building. After talking to him a few minutes he looked at me and said “God is still here with you. He has not left you”. I began to cry out and before I knew it I was right there at God’s feet. He began telling how good God had been to me and I began thanking God for it. It was good but I did not feel any different. He started telling me “Kaela, God has let you find His feet. This is it. He is salvation. Just rest.” I had been trying to offer God something with all my tears and Bro. Terry said, “You’re working. Stop it! That’s not how this works. Salvation is a gift. Just rest. He is enough.” So I began to try to rest. I stopped crying and tried my best to just rest. Bro. Terry said, “Now you’re working at resting aren’t you?” I can remember thinking again “what is wrong with me?” and I said, “Yes sir.” After several minutes of this, things started to calm down and I knew that nothing was going to happen because I could not think right about it. After talking to Bro. Terry for a few minutes he asked me how I felt. I told him I was scared that the next time that happened I was going to mess it up again. He told me I should feel sorry. God was there at that moment to save me and I was trying to offer Him works. Tears just fell down my cheeks and I told God that I was sorry. It was so hard for me to believe that there was nothing that I was supposed to do to earn salvation. I grew up hearing it all my life but it was never real to me until then. Just take it and say thank you? Could that really be it? Just believe what is being said to you at that moment and let it take you to where you can find Him… That’s all? It seemed so foreign to me. Yet I heard it ALL my life. I was starting to understand the verse about knowledge and understanding and why it was written in that order. I had knowledge but not much understanding. Shortly after this, I began to really see my need to have God do this for me. I would be dusting my house, or doing the dishes or bathing my child and the thought, “I can’t” kept going through my mind. I was seeing that I could not do anything. I could not believe or stir myself up or even be truly thankful for this great life that God had given me. All I saw was my inability! The night Lydia was baptized she read her testimony. Bro. Terry was right. We were twins! She talked about being on a rollercoaster of seeking and then not seeking. She talked about seeing nothing but her inability. That was me!

After that, Bro. Terry continued to faithfully preach salvation to the lost but none of us would move. Sermon after sermon we all just sat there. Bro. Terry told us during one message that we were at the end,that the lost were not going any further until we got saved. That there was nothing more we needed to learn. In that moment I felt that. My stomach was in knots I was not a happy. Then about 2 months before June camp he stood up and read Song of Solomon 5:6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. As soon as he read it my heart sank. I did not like the sound of that. Bro. Terry told us that we had countless opportunities to come to God but our “soul failed when he spake”. He said that God had withdrawn himself and was gone to his place and that if we went and searched for Him with all our hearts we would find Him. I was so discouraged. I felt like I was being left alone to fend for myself and I was not going to have any help. As Bro. Terry continued to preach he explained that he was not going to abandon us and not answer our questions, or pray for us, or help us the best he knew how. This encouraged me, but I was still very afraid. As time went on Bro. Terry did not preach as much to the lost as he had been. And when he would I still would do nothing except talk to him afterward. He kept telling me that he was not God and that I needed to talk to God like I was talking to him.

I knew camp was getting close and I did not want to leave another one lost.

Sunday was the first day of camp and one of the first messages preached was from Bro. Greg Moffitt. He stood up, as bold as I had ever seen him and with confidence told the camp that God was going to save this week. His exact words were “some of you are going home from this camp saved”. I could not believe what God was promising! Could this really be the week for me? I sure wanted it to be. Every night that week when I would go to bed I would pray for God to help me listen and do what I had to do. Every night I would pray, “let me find your feet again like I did that one night”. Tuesday morning we went out to ring the bell for those who had been saved in the past year. When we got done Bro. Terry looked at the crowd and said, “what do you say we come out here and ring it again before the week is over?” I thought, “Yes please!”

 

As the week progressed the sermons were good but I would never move. I kept telling Bro. Terry that I was so afraid of myself. I did NOT want to mess this up again. He just encouraged me and told me to just keep listening and be ready. Wednesday morning of camp was different. When we got there I noticed that people were talking about something and some of them were crying happy tears. Then, when Bro. Terry prayed at breakfast he thanked God for working in someone, even when other people do not think anything was going on. I knew right then someone had probably gotten saved. We later found out that morning that it was Sarah Hill and Brittany Barna, both of them teenagers. Once again, two people I should have been setting the example for, and once again I had mixed emotions. Sarah was a friend from church and Brittany was my cousin. They had both gotten saved in the dorm. I was of course happy for them but just feeling like it was never going to happen for me. They stood up and told the camp what had happened then we went outside so that could ring the bell. Walking out I was about as low as I had ever been. I just kept thinking, “will I EVER get to ring this bell? How much longer will I go not being saved?” Then I felt someone put their arm around me. It was Mrs. Karen Hill, Sarah’s mom. She just hugged me and said “you’re next girl. And I hope it’s today.” I cried on her for a moment and even though she probably did not think it was much, it was a great encouragement to me. That was really probably the lowest I had ever felt in being lost and it was nice to have a sweet friend there to help pick me up. We went back inside and had service, then lunch. As we were leaving camp to go rest before the service that night, we heard people crying and thanking God for saving someone. It was Hayden Harding. Another teenager! After hugging him and his parents and standing around talking about it for a minute, we headed home for the afternoon. It was a very quiet ride home on my part. When we got there I laid Greyson down in the bed with me. As I looked at him I thought, “I’m going to blink and my 18 month old son is going to be saved before me”. Tears just filled my eyes and I lay there with this thought until I was finally able to go to sleep. When we got back to camp for supper that night I was pretty tore up and really needed to talk to Bro. Terry before church. I cornered him back at the dessert table and asked if I could please talk to him. He said I looked pretty “distraught”. I told him that I felt almost embarrassed that these young teenagers are getting saved before me. I knew I had wasted so much time caring, then not caring… seeking, then not seeking… listening, then not listening. I told him that I was not mad at them at all, I just needed some hope. I did not want to go into the service discouraged, but rather ready. He said that he was going to preach that night and that he would be able to give me some hope. I felt better afterward but at the same time kind of nervous. I just did not want to miss God again.

Bro. Terry’s text that night was Isaiah 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low. He explained that when you are lost you are either a mountain or a valley. The “mountains” are the prideful that God must humble and the “valleys” are those who see themselves and need to look up. I was a “valley”. Most of the time all I saw was my inability. The words “I can’t” were flashing in my brain all the time. He preached to the “mountains” for what seemed like forever and in the middle of talking to them he came over to me and looked right into my eyes and said, “no matter what you’ve done or what you see in yourself, God loves you”. Inside of me I felt a little bit of hope spring up. Then finally after what felt like an eternity, he began to talk to the “valleys”. He walked right over to me again and said, “You wanted me to give you some hope? You’ve listened. You’ve done what God told me to tell you to do. He’s here tonight and you can rest.” I broke almost immediately. I began to cry and of course I tried to figure out what I was supposed to do. There I was working again. Basically all heard for the rest of the sermon was “Look up! Look up!” But I did not know how. After he finished preaching he came over to me and sat down. He asked the ever so famous question, “What’s going on?” I told him that I did not know what to do. He told me I was at God’s feet again. He said that God is salvation and I needed to rest. I began to work at resting again. I could NOT stop working. He said that I was trying to get God to do something that he already wanted to do and that I just needed to rest. After talking to me for a few minutes he got up to talk to someone else, then came back over. When he sat down he asked me, “Kaela, what are you doing?” Remembering that afternoon looking at Greyson I thought to myself, “I’m wasting my life away.” He asked me if I believed God loved me. I answered yes. Without a doubt I knew God loved me. There was no way I could deny that. He then asked me why I thought that God would not save me. He asked, “Do you believe God doesn’t want to save you, or that He can’t?” Not knowing what to say I just sat there for a minute. Then he asked me if I believed that he was saved,or that my parents were saved. I said yes. So then I said, “I guess I believe God didn’t want to save me”. I obviously believed that He could save because I knew that he and my parents were saved. But the real question was, did I believe that God could save me? Church had officially dismissed by this time and I wanted to talk to Bro. Terry once more before heading home. I told him that I thought I had answered him wrong when he asked me if I believed God did not want to save me or that he could not. I had said that God did not want to. But really I was just saying that because I thought I believed God could save me. I thought that believing God could save others meant that I believed He could save me too. We eventually came to the conclusion that I did not trust God to do it for ME. He told me that I needed to get some confidence, confidence that God would do what I could not.

I headed home that night knowing without a doubt that this was my problem. Before we left Bro. Dewitt Robinson, from Pioneer came over to me and hugged me. He said he needed to tell me something and he really wanted me to listen. He reminded of when my family first moved down to Texas and we had stayed at their house. I was sick one night and he sat me in his lap and sang to me until I fell asleep. He asked me if I had ever doubted that he loved me. I told him “no, I did not.” Then he asked the same about my dad. I said, “no.” Then he asked why I would doubt that God would love me and could save ME. I really needed to hear that.

When I got home I remembered that I was scheduled to be in the nursery the next morning and obviously I would miss the service. I sent a text to Bro. Terry asking him what I should do. His response was, “You’ll be alright. Go to the nursery.” My heart sank just a tiny bit and I said, yes sir. After visiting with my parents that night I finally got to bed at around 12:30. I kissed Stephen goodnight and rolled over to go to sleep. I began to pray as I had done pretty much every night that week. I told God I needed help. I needed confidence that He would and could save me. I told him that I was sorry. He had led me to His feet again just as I had asked Him to earlier that week, and all I did was work and doubt that He could save me. I began to see His love towards me and how I had hurt Him by not believing that He could save me. Then, out of nowhere, a verse came to my mind. It was Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. This is the way it is written in the bible but when I heard it, I heard He is WELL able. It was a very small amount of faith but I believed that. All I can say is God knew I was going to need a word with some power behind it in order to believe it. He knew I needed to hear that He was well able to do above all I could ask or think. A few moments after that I realized that something was different. I did not feel like I was in turmoil anymore. Somewhere in the last few minutes I had gotten peace. I did not know what to think of it. As I lay there thinking about what had just happened my heart began to pound and my stomach had butterflies that felt more like bats. I ended up lying there for about two hours considering it, wondering if that was what I thought it was. I finally fell asleep at about 2:30 and then woke up at 5:00 with it immediately on my mind. I got up because I knew there was no chance of me going back to sleep. I saw my dad’s bible lying on the kitchen counter and grabbed it then sat on the couch. I found Eph 3:20 and read it. Right then I could hear my heart beat in my ears and my stomach started turning flips. It was REAL to me! I knew I had to talk to Bro. Terry as soon as possible.

That morning was agony! I was the only one awake for the longest time. Then finally at 7:00 I woke Stephen up and told him to get a shower. When we got camp and I went on the hunt for Bro. Terry but he was not there yet. I was about to internally combust when he finally came through the doors. We went back into one of the small rooms and I told him what had happened. Then I told him about what Bro. Dewitt had reminded me of, about singing me to sleep. He said, “Well it sounds like God sang you to sleep last night.” Tears filled both of our eyes and I sat there in shock. Did I really get saved last night? I did not go to bed and start praying that night with the intention of getting saved. God just snuck up on me before I knew it. I told him that I was struggling because it was such a small moment that I believed that verse. He said, “Well what do you think having faith the grain of a mustard seed is? How much faith do you have to have?” I told him about how long I laid there thinking about it, unable to get it off my mind. He reminded me of the verse in “Amazing Grace” where it says, “how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed”. He said that is what I was experiencing in those few hours. He looked at me and smiled and said, “It does not surprise me a bit that you and Sarah would get saved at home. I told you that God had gone into His place and that when you went and searched for Him with all your heart, you would find Him. And you did.” I could see it, but it was such a scary thing to say that it was real. You go so long being lost that when you do get saved you can not believe it because it is nothing like you thought. But I could not deny that something had definitely changed. People could tell I was glowing. Mrs. Cindy Robbins told me in the nursery that morning that my countenance had changed. During lunch that afternoon Bro. Terry asked me how I felt and all I could say was “happy”. I could not get conviction on me anymore. I told Stephen after lunch then told my parents. My parents began to rejoice and then the whole camp knew. Within minutes I was up, telling the camp what had happened. Then later that day I got my “lost coin” and my “newborn hankie” and that evening I rang the bell. What a day that was! All I know is that God loves me and that I had peace when I believed that He was WELL able to do what I could not. God spoke to me in a still small voice when I was expecting a big booming one from the heavens. Now I understand why we should not have expectations of what salvation is. It really is something God does to you…